The Russian Federation Essay Writing Service

The Russian Federation Essay

LOCATION, CLIMATE, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, FLAG, CAPITAL

The Russian Federation, or Russia (until 25 December 1991 officially known as the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic RSFSR), constituted the major part of the USSR, providing some 76% of its area and some 51·of its population in 1990. It is bounded by Norway, Finland, Estonia and Latvia to the north west and by Belarus and Ukraine to the west. The southern borders of European Russia are with the Black Sea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan. The Siberian and Far Eastern regions have southern frontiers with the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The eastern coast line is on the Sea of japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Pacific Ocean and the Barents Sea. The northern coast line is on the Arctic Ocean. The region around kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg in East Prussia), on the Baltic Sea, became part of the Russian Federation in 1945. It is separated from the rest of the Russian Federation by Lithuania and Belarus. It borders Poland to the south, Lithuania to the north and east and has a coast line on the Baltic Sea. The climate of Russia is extremely varied, ranging from extreme Arctic conditions in northern areas and much of Siberia to generally temperate weather in the south. The average temperature in Moscow in July is 19°C (66°F); the average for January is 9°C (15°F). Average annual precipitation in the capital is 575 mm. The official language is Russian, but a large number of other languages are in daily use. Religious adherence is varied, with many religions closely connected with particular ethnic groups. Christianity is  the major religion, mostly adhered to by ethnic Russians and other Slavs. The Russian Orthodox church is the largest denomination. The main concentrations of adherents of Islam are among Volga Tatars, Chuvash and Bashkirs, and the peoples of the northern Caucasus, including the Chechen, Ingush, Ossetians, Kabardinians and the peoples of Daghestan. Buddhism is the main religion of the Buryats, the Tuvans and the Kalmyks. The large pre 1917 Jewish population has been depleted by war and emigration, but there remain some 656,000 Jews in the Russian Federation. The national flag (approximate proportions 2 by 1) consists of three equal horizontal stripes of white, blue and red. The capital is Moscow.

Following the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, the Russian Federation was widely recognized as the successor to the USSR in the international community, and was granted the USSR’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council Relations with the West, which had already improved by the Russian leadership in 1992, partly prompted by the need for significant western economic assistance. In January 1993 President Yeltsin and Us President Bush signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which envisaged a reduction in the strategic nuclear weapons of both powers to about one third of their current level. In 1994-95 Russia’s relations with the USA and western European countries were severally strained by disagreements over the proposed enlargement of NATO to include some eastern European countries (see below). increasing criticism by western countries of Russia’s military intervention in Chechnya also damaged relations, as did policy disagreements concerning the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Relations with Japan were complicated by a continuing dispute over the status of the Kurile Island, which had become part of the USSR at the end of the Second World War. Japan reiterated its long standing demand that four of the islands be returned to Japanese sovereignty, and delayed any significant aid contributions until Russia admitted the validity of the Japanese claim. President Yeltsin visited japan in October 1993, when significant progress was reported to have been made towards full normalization of relations, although the territorial dispute remained unresolved. Relations with other Asian countries, including the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and India, improved significantly in 1992-93.

In the early 1990s Russia’s most immediate foreign policy problems were with the other former Soviet republics . Relations with Ukraine were damaged by a dispute over the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, and by the status of Crimea, which some Russian nationalists demanded be’ returned to Russia, There were also difficulties concerning economic issues and the status of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory (see chapter on Ukraine). Relations with Estonia, Lativia and Lithuania were initially hampered by ostensible Russian unwillingness to effect a rapid withdrawal of former Soviet troops (now under Russian jurisdiction) from those republics. However, all Russian troops had been withdrawn from the three states by the end of August 1994. Nevertheless ‘relations with Estonia and Lativia continued to be strained, as a result of Russian criticism of allegedly discriminatory policies towards ethnic. Russian minorities in those countries. While the withdrawal of Russian (former Soviet) troops from’ Poland, Germany and other parts of central and eastern Europe was largely completed by 1994, there were indications that the Russian Federation was. intent on re-establishing .its political and military influence in the so called near abroad or republics of the former USSR, especially those areas involved in civil or ethnic conflicts, or republics with large ethnis Russian . populations. “Russian troops were deployed in Tajikistan to support the Tajik Government against rebel forces, and to control.the Tajik Afghan border (see chapter on Tajikistan). There were also allegations that the Russian Government provided active military ‘support for the separatist movements in Moldova and Georgia. Both sides in the Armenian Azeraijani .conflict over sovereignty of Nagorny Karabakh claimed that their respective adversary had received,military support from Russia.

There were also. indications that the Russian Federation was eager to reclaim the role that the former USSR. had played in international politics. In February 1994 Russia was instrumental in persuading Bosnian Serb forces to withdraw their artillery form around Sarajevo, thus temporarily bringing to an end the bombardment of the city and averting the threat-of NATO air strikes. Russia also contributed peace keeping forces to the UN personnel in Bosnia and herzegovina. However, in 199~ the Russian leadership became increasingly critical of UN policy towards the former Yugoslavia, and it continued to develop stronger relations with its traditional ally In the region, Serbia. Despite its increasing assertiveness in international affairs, the Russian Federation showed concern at what it perceived as NATO expansionism in eastern Europe and some republics of the former USSR. In June 1994, however, after several months hesitation, Russia formally joined NATO’s partnership for peace program of military cooperation with former eastern bloc states (see p. 192), which had already been joined by some 20 countries. Over the next 12 months, however , Russia repeatedly refused to sign any more detailed program of cooperation with NATO. nevertheless, in late May 1995 Russia and NATO agreed a plan to implement wide ranging military and security cooperation within the partnership for peace program.

GOVERNMENT

Under the Constitution of December 1993, the Russian Federation is a democratic, federative multi ethnic republic, in which state power is divided between the legislature, executive and judiciary, which are independent of one another. The President of the Russian Federation is Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but also holds broad executive powers. The President is elected for a term of four years by universal direct suffrage. The President appoints the Chairman (Prime Minister) of the Government, which also includes Deputy Chairmen and Federal Ministers. Supreme legislative power is vested in • the bicameral Federal Assembly, which is elected by universal direct suffrage-for a period of four years. The Assembly’s upper chamber is the 178 member Federation Council, which comprises two representatives from each of the country’s federal territorial units; its. lower chamber is
the 450 member State Duma.  According to the Federation Treaty, approved in March 1992, the Russian Federation comprises 20 republics (16 of which were autonomous republics under the previous system, and four of which were autonomous oblates regions), one autonomous oblast, 49 administrative oblates and six krais (provinces). There are also ten autonomous okrugs (districts), under the jurisdiction of the oblast or krai within which they are situated. A further republic, the Ingush Republic, was created in June 1992. The cities of Moscow and St Petersburg have special administrative status.

DEFENCE

In May 1992 the Russian Federation established its own armed forces, on the basis of former Soviet forces on, the territory of the Russian Federation and former Soviet forces .outside its territory not subordinate to other former republics of the USSR. In June 1994 the tota! Russian armed forces numbered some 1,714,000 (including some 950,000 conscripts and 150,000 staff of the Ministry of Defence). Naval forces comprised some 295,000 men (including an estimated 180,000 conscripts), the air forces some 170,000 (including 85,000 conscripts), while ground forces numbered some 780,000 personnel (including approximately 450,000 conscripts). There were a further 289,000 paramilitary troops, including 100,000 border troops, Conscription is compulsory for males over the age of 18 years, and lasts for two years. However, the .rate of conscription evasion is reported to be extremely high. Projected budget expenditure on Defence for 1995 was 48,577,m. roubles (or some 19.6% of total expenditure). Following the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991,and the establishment of the Common wealth of Independent States (CIS), member states of the CIS concluded a series of agreements on military cooperation and the coordination of armed forces. However, in 1992-93 opposition to the idea of joint CIS forces increased, as individual republics began the formation of their own national armies. None the less, in early 1995  Russian troops remained on the territory of the majority of CIS republics.

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

In 1993, According to estimates by the World Bank, Russia’s gross national product (GNP), measured at average 1991-93 prices, was US $348,413m., equivalent to $2,350 per head. Between 1985 and 1993, it was estimated, GNP per head decreased, in real terms, at an average annual rate of 5.0 %. Over the same period the population increased by an -annual average of 0.4 %. Gross domestic product (GDP) decreased, in real terms, by 18.5% in 1992, in comparison with 1991. Real GDP declined by a further 12% in 1993 and by 15% in 1994. Agriculture and forestry (excluding fishing) contributed 15.6% of net material product (NMP) in 1991. Some 15.4% of the employed labor force were engaged in the agricultural sector in the following year. Principal agricultural products are grain, potatoes and livestock. In 1990 the Russian Government began a program to encourage the development of private farming, to replace the inefficient state and collective farms. By mid 1994280,000 private farms (mainly small scale) had been established, although more than 90% of the country’s agriculture continued to be practised by state and collective farms. Annual agricultural production increased slightly in 1986-90, but declined by 5% in 1991, by 8% in 1992, by 4% in 1993 and by 9% in 1994.

Industry (including mining, manufacturing, construction and power) contributed 59.8% of NMP in 1991. In the following year the industrial sector employed 38.6% of the total labor force. Gross industrial output decreased by 18.0% in 1992, by 16.2% in 1993 and by a further 20.9% in 1~94. Russia’s industrial stagnation was attributed, in large part, to a decrease in demand for military equipment. , Mining and quarrying employed some 1.7%’ of ,the total labor force in 1992. Russia has considerable reserves of energy bearing minerals, including large deposits of petroleum, coal.natural gas and peat. The level of extraction of’~ fuels. declined in 1992; petroleum (including gas condensate) by 14%; natural gas by 0.4% and coal by 5%. The decline in  petroleum production is largely attributable to the exhaustion of existing fieIds and the lack of development of new deposits, many of which are in highly inaccessible areas of Siberia. Other minerals exploiled Include copper, iron ore, lead, phosphate rock, nickel, manganese, gold and  diamonds.Annual production in the ~ sector decreased progressively ‘in the early 1990s: by 4% in 1991; by 11% in 1992, by 15% in 1993, and by 14 in 1991, by 11% in 1992, by 15% in 1993, and by 14% in the first six months of 1994. In 1992 manufacturing. provided some 26% of employment. Production in the sector decreased, in real terms, by 8% in 1991, by 19% in 1992, by 16% in 1993, and by 30% in the first six months of 1994.

Electric energy, is derived from oil, gas and coal fired power stations nuclear power stations and hydroelectric installations. Despite fears concerning the safety of nuclear power stations in Russia, there are no plans to decommission any plants in the near future. In 1993 Russia’s 29 nuclear reactors supplied’ 1’2.5% of total electricity generation .In 1993, total production of electric energy totalled 956,600m.Kwh, a decline of 5% in comparison with 1992.The decrease in production corresponded to a fall in demand, owing to the decline industrial production. The services sector expanded rapidly in the early 1990s: in 1993 it contributed 42.2% of.overall GDP (compared with 32.4% in 1990) and in 1994 the proportion was reported to nave risen to-some 50%. In 1994 the volume of services provided by, banks, insurance companies, other financial organizations and real estate agents was estimated to have increased by.more than 30% compared with 1993.

The value of Russian.exports to countries outside the former USSR amounted to, US $48,027m. in 1994, while imports were valued at $28,196m., resulting in a trade surplus of $19,831m. Trade declined sharply with, former members of’ the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , as result of a transfer to payments in freely coavertible currencies and at world prices. The share of thee former communist bloc countries in total Russian trade turnover declined from 24% in 1993. In 1994 Russia’s principal trading partner outside the former USSR was Germany (accounting for 13% of total Russian trade turnover), followed by the USA (7.3%), the United Kingdom (6.4%), Italy (5.7%) and the People’s Republic of China (5.0%).In the same year exports to former communist countries declined by 19.5%, while imports from them declined by 2.5 %. The principal exports in 1994 were fuels and energy (comprising 44.7% of Russia’s total exports), followed by ferrous and non-ferrous metals and derivatives (20.2%), chemical products (7.6%), machinery and transport equipment (5.3 %) and timber and paper products (4.3%). The principal imports in 1994 were machinery and transport  equipment (accounting for 34.0% of total imports), followed by foodstuffs (29.2%), chemical products (10.7%), textiles, clothing and footwear (6.8)and metals (3.5%),

According to official statistics, the budget deficit at the end of 1993 was estimated to be 17,000,000m roubles (equivalent to approximately 8% of GDP). Russia’s external debt was US S83,089m. at the end of 1993, of which $72,769m. was long term public debt. Consumer prices rose by an average of 1,353% in 1992, although the annual rate of inflation declined to an average of 896% in 1993 and to 294% in 1994. In May 1995 some 2,040,000 people were registered as unemployed (2.4% the labor force); however, this estimate did not take into account hidden unemployment. In June 1992 Russia became a member of the World Bank, and in July of that year it formally joined the IMF. Russia is also a member (as a Country of Operations) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD” see p. 140). In June 1994 Russia signed an agreement of partnership and cooperation with the European Union.

Russia suffered severe economic problems in 1991-92 in attempting effect a transition from a centrally planned economy to a market orientated system. The economic reforms initiated by Yegor Gaidar in January 1992 aimed to liberalize most prices, drastically to reduce central’ government expenditure in order to attain financial stability, and to achieve lasting structural changes by means of the transfer to private ownership of state enterprises. Considerable progress was made in liberalizing prices (at the cost of high inflation), and in October mass privatization was inaugurated, initially by means of a voucher system. By late 1994 the private sector reportedly accounted for some 62% of GDP. Although in 1994 overall GDP declined for the fifth consecutive year, there were indications in the final quarter of the year that industrial production has begun to revive. Moreover, the annual rate of inflation, although still high, was substantially reduced. In its economic program for 1993-95 the Government intended to tighten fiscal and monetary policy, to curb inflation further, and to integrate Russia more fully in to the world economy. The Government also sought to counter the alarming increase in organized crime, which was not only detrimental to the national economy but also a potential deterrent to foreign investment in the country.

SOCIAL WELFARE

The Russian Federation provides a basic social security and health system for all its citizens. Until 1990 when a Social Insurance Fund was established, all benefit payments were financed from the general budget. The Social. Insurance Fund is financed by employers on behalf of their workers, and is administered by the Federation of Independent Trade unions of the Russian Federation. It provides payments for loss of earnings owing to ill health, as well as maternity benefit (which is payable for up to 18 weeks). Old age pensions are provided for women over the age of 55 years and men over the age of 60, if they have worked for the qualifying period of at least 20 years (women) or 25 years (men). Some categories of worker may receive pensions on completion of the qualifying period. Since 1991 pensions have been provided from a Pension Fund (financed largely by employer contributions, but also including contributions from workers, and with a budgetary transfer to pay for family benefits). Citizens who have worked less than five years of the qualifying period may receive a social pension, which amounts to- two thirds of the minimum pension. Disability benefits include a child care allowance for all children under six years old. In April 1991 a further allowance was introduced for children between the ages of six and 16.  Unemployment benefit was introduced in 1991, when a Federal Employment Fund was established (financed by employer contributions and government funds). Benefit is payed to those who have been out of work for more than three months (for the first three months the previous employer is obliged to.continue paying the ex-employee’s salary). Benefit is normally payable for a maximum of 12 months.

A basic.health service is provided for all citizens. All health care was formerly financed directly by the State, but in 1993 a health insurance scheme was introduced, with payment by employers rather than by the State. In 1991 there were 47 physicians, 123 auxiliary staff and 137 hospital beds per 10,000 of the population. Projected budgetary expenditure on health care for 1995 was 4,293,631m. roubles (some 1.7% of total expenditure), while projected expenditure on social welfare was 4,470,853m. roubles (1.8% of the total).  During the early 1990s wages in the health sector fell, in real terms, and there was a severe shortage of medical supplies. As in most oilier former Soviet republics production of medicines in Russia effectively collapsed as most newly privatized pharmaceutical companies became unprofitable. The difficulties experienced by the health care system were reflected in a serious deterioration in the health of the population. In the early 1990s the number of cases of typhoid, diphtheria and dysentery rose significantly. The reasons cited for this increase were unsatisfactory environmental conditions, a decline in immunity, a shortage of vitamins and medicine, and insufficient inoculations. In November 1993, according to official figures, some 35% of children in Russia suffering from chronic illnesses and only 14% of children were healthy. In the period 1990-95 average life expectancy for males decreased from 64 to 58 years. Foreign aid programs existed at this time, but they were insufficient to compensate for the severe problems in the health care system.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of seven and 17 years, for a period of 10 years. State education is generally provided free of charge, although in 1992 some higher education establishments began charging tuition fees. Students in higher education receive a small stipend from the State. The level of education in the Russian Federation is relatively high, with 27 graduates per 10,000 of the population in 1991. At the beginning of the 1988/89 academic year 98.2% of pupils in general education day schools were taught in the Russian language. However, there were 10 other languages in use in secondary education, including Tatar (0.5%), Yakut (0.3%), Chuvash (0.2%) and Baskhir (0.2%). In the 1992/93 academic year total enrollment in secondary education (including teacher training and Vocational schools) was 9.4m., while 2.6m. students were enrolled .n higher educational establishments. Projected budgetary expenditure on education for 1995 was 8,998,200m. roubles (representing 3.6% of total expenditure). All educational  institutions were state owned. under Soviet rule, but a wide range of private schools and colleges were Introduced in the early 1990s. In 1992 there were some 300 non-state schools, with more than 20,000 pupils, and 40 non-state higher education institutions. In the early 1990s there were extensive changes to the curriculum in all branches of the education system, including an end to the study of politically inspired subjects, a new approach to the study of Soviet and Russian history, and the introduction of study of previously banned literary works.

HOW RUSSIA IS RULED

There is irony in considering “how Russia is ruled”, for the phrase, coined by the late Merle Fainsod in his important study of the exercise of Soviet power, came to means for the twntieth century the rule of Soviet Communist’ Party and government elites. Today, “how Russia is ruled” must refer to the exercise of power in a Russian Federation in which even the term used for “Russian” (Rossiiskaia) has the politically sensitive ring of-a multiethnic state, not a homogeneous state of ethnic Russians. The government of the Russian Federation, like that of the United States, is composed fo three branches the executive, legislative, and judicial. Executively leadership is exercised by a president and a cabinet of ministers, headed by a prime minister. Under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, this has been an activist presidency, despite the fact that the legislative branch has had the power to approve or reject presidential appointments to The offices of prime minister, as well as the ministers of defense, security, and foreign affairs. Presidentially initiated reforms have also faced occasional legislative challenge.

The most powerfull legislative branch of the govermment is the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies, a unicameral (one chamber) ,legislative body that normally meets twice a year. Elected to a four year term in republican wide elections in March 1990, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, this Russian Congress of 1,033 deputies is composed of a mixture of well established former Communist bureaucrats, managers of state enterprises, and deputies elected on more reformist slates. Among the deputies-are a number of non Russian leaders representing regional, ethnic homelands within the Russian Federation. From within the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies, one quarter (256 members) are elected to the Russian Supreme Soviet (a standing legislature commonly called the Russian parliament) .By the .end of 1992, an increasingly assertive Russian Congress, coupled with a Supreme Soviet broadly empowered to disburse money, had collided with the activist presidency of Boris Yeltsin. That collision led to a public referendum on the Russian presidency and on the legislature in April 1993. The same impasse ultimately led to yeltsin’s executive order of 21 September 1993 disbanding the Russian Parliament and calling for December elections. (See “September 1993 SIwdown”.) The conflict also prompted Russian President Yeltsin to speed preparation of a new Russian constitution.

The Issue of the Russian constitution stands at the center of the highest judicial authority in the Russian Federation, the Constitutional Court Established in 1991, the- independent Constitutional Court was I intended to be an Important arbiter of ,the constitution and of the legality of legislative and executive action. Authorized to have 15 members (only 13 were serving in the spring of 1993), the Court is- headed by its Chief Justice Valerii Zorkin. Zorkin and the Constitutional Court have undertaken highly controversial ruimgs overturning the constitutionality of both presidential and legislative actions.The Court’s actions in 1993 have tended to align it more directly in support of the Russian Parliament, and in conflict with the Russian presidency. Nevertheless, in one of its most controversial decisions,the Court ruled on the eve be the April 1993 Popular referendum that the Congress’ had ‘inappropriately set as the standard for passage a majority of’ all eligible voters, rather than the simple majority of all votes Cast. While the Constitutional! Court has been criticized for what some see as its partisan support for the Russian  Congress in its conflict with Russian President Yeltsin, the reality is that ill determinations regarding the legality of legislative and executive action are clouded by the nature of the old Soviet constitutional documents still informal operation.

FRAMING A NEW RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION

With renewed support from the April 1993 popular referendum, President Yeltsin has sought to limit the authority of the Russian Congress by speeding work on a new post Soviet Russian constitution. In June 1993, a constitutional conference was  held  to  approve a draft constitutional document, Reflecting Yeltsin’ s own wishes, the conference approved)be draft (still not a public document as of this writing), which calls for a presidential republic with a two chamber parliament ,and restraints on all three branches of government. The implementation of any such constitution awaits its formal adoption, a matter very much complicated by the impasse between the Russian president and the leadership of the Russian parliament. No doubt the most divisive issue confronting the framers of the new constitution is that of the autonomy to be assigned to those 21 internally independent ethnic republics and other autonomous regions, districts, and cities found within the Russian Federation. Sensitive to the heightened demands and potentially secessionist impulses of some of these autonomous national homelands, as for example in Tatarstan and Chechenia, the constitutional framers have accorded these republics a formal measure of independence in the new constitution. In reaction to this, other traditionally Russian ethnic areas within the Federation sought to secure the same rights by suddenly declaring themselves republican units, such as the “Republic of the Urals” in Ekaterinburg, the “East Siberian Republic” in Irkutsk, or the “Maritime Republic” in Bladivostok. Clearly, the most fateful problem facing Russia’s constitutional architects is
how to maintain the integrity of the Russian Federation, while recognizing the claims of independence on the part of the more assertive autonomous regions. The irony in this balancing act is that these autonomous ethnic republics, as in the case of the newly independent republics of former Soviet Central Asia, were the product of a nationalities policy devised by Joseph Stalin to give the appearance, though rarely the rality, of support for ethnic identity and national self-determination.

LOCATION, CLIMATE, LANGUAGE, RELIGION, FLAG, CAPITAL

The Russian Federation, or Russia (until 25 December 1991 officially known as the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic RSFSR), constituted the major part of the USSR, providing some 76% of its area and some 51·of its population in 1990. It is bounded by Norway, Finland, Estonia and Latvia to the north west and by Belarus and Ukraine to the west. The southern borders of European Russia are with the Black Sea, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the Caspian Sea and Kazakhstan. The Siberian and Far Eastern regions have southern frontiers with the People’s Republic of China, Mongolia and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The eastern coast line is on the Sea of japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Pacific Ocean and the Barents Sea. The northern coast line is on the Arctic Ocean. The region around kaliningrad (formerly Konigsberg in East Prussia), on the Baltic Sea, became part of the Russian Federation in 1945. It is separated from the rest of the Russian Federation by Lithuania and Belarus. It borders Poland to the south, Lithuania to the north and east and has a coast line on the Baltic Sea. The climate of Russia is extremely varied, ranging from extreme Arctic conditions in northern areas and much of Siberia to generally temperate weather in the south. The average temperature in Moscow in July is 19°C (66°F); the average for January is 9°C (15°F). Average annual precipitation in the capital is 575 mm. The official language is Russian, but a large number of other languages are in daily use. Religious adherence is varied, with many religions closely connected with particular ethnic groups. Christianity is  the major religion, mostly adhered to by ethnic Russians and other Slavs. The Russian Orthodox church is the largest denomination. The main concentrations of adherents of Islam are among Volga Tatars, Chuvash and Bashkirs, and the peoples of the northern Caucasus, including the Chechen, Ingush, Ossetians, Kabardinians and the peoples of Daghestan. Buddhism is the main religion of the Buryats, the Tuvans and the Kalmyks. The large pre 1917 Jewish population has been depleted by war and emigration, but there remain some 656,000 Jews in the Russian Federation. The national flag (approximate proportions 2 by 1) consists of three equal horizontal stripes of white, blue and red. The capital is Moscow.

Following the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991, the Russian Federation was widely recognized as the successor to the USSR in the international community, and was granted the USSR’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council Relations with the West, which had already improved by the Russian leadership in 1992, partly prompted by the need for significant western economic assistance. In January 1993 President Yeltsin and Us President Bush signed the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which envisaged a reduction in the strategic nuclear weapons of both powers to about one third of their current level. In 1994-95 Russia’s relations with the USA and western European countries were severally strained by disagreements over the proposed enlargement of NATO to include some eastern European countries (see below). increasing criticism by western countries of Russia’s military intervention in Chechnya also damaged relations, as did policy disagreements concerning the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Relations with Japan were complicated by a continuing dispute over the status of the Kurile Island, which had become part of the USSR at the end of the Second World War. Japan reiterated its long standing demand that four of the islands be returned to Japanese sovereignty, and delayed any significant aid contributions until Russia admitted the validity of the Japanese claim. President Yeltsin visited japan in October 1993, when significant progress was reported to have been made towards full normalization of relations, although the territorial dispute remained unresolved. Relations with other Asian countries, including the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of Korea and India, improved significantly in 1992-93.

In the early 1990s Russia’s most immediate foreign policy problems were with the other former Soviet republics . Relations with Ukraine were damaged by a dispute over the division of the former Soviet Black Sea Fleet, and by the status of Crimea, which some Russian nationalists demanded be’ returned to Russia, There were also difficulties concerning economic issues and the status of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory (see chapter on Ukraine). Relations with Estonia, Lativia and Lithuania were initially hampered by ostensible Russian unwillingness to effect a rapid withdrawal of former Soviet troops (now under Russian jurisdiction) from those republics. However, all Russian troops had been withdrawn from the three states by the end of August 1994. Nevertheless ‘relations with Estonia and Lativia continued to be strained, as a result of Russian criticism of allegedly discriminatory policies towards ethnic. Russian minorities in those countries. While the withdrawal of Russian (former Soviet) troops from’ Poland, Germany and other parts of central and eastern Europe was largely completed by 1994, there were indications that the Russian Federation was. intent on re-establishing .its political and military influence in the so called near abroad or republics of the former USSR, especially those areas involved in civil or ethnic conflicts, or republics with large ethnis Russian . populations. “Russian troops were deployed in Tajikistan to support the Tajik Government against rebel forces, and to control.the Tajik Afghan border (see chapter on Tajikistan). There were also allegations that the Russian Government provided active military ‘support for the separatist movements in Moldova and Georgia. Both sides in the Armenian Azeraijani .conflict over sovereignty of Nagorny Karabakh claimed that their respective adversary had received,military support from Russia.

There were also. indications that the Russian Federation was eager to reclaim the role that the former USSR. had played in international politics. In February 1994 Russia was instrumental in persuading Bosnian Serb forces to withdraw their artillery form around Sarajevo, thus temporarily bringing to an end the bombardment of the city and averting the threat-of NATO air strikes. Russia also contributed peace keeping forces to the UN personnel in Bosnia and herzegovina. However, in 199~ the Russian leadership became increasingly critical of UN policy towards the former Yugoslavia, and it continued to develop stronger relations with its traditional ally In the region, Serbia. Despite its increasing assertiveness in international affairs, the Russian Federation showed concern at what it perceived as NATO expansionism in eastern Europe and some republics of the former USSR. In June 1994, however, after several months hesitation, Russia formally joined NATO’s partnership for peace program of military cooperation with former eastern bloc states (see p. 192), which had already been joined by some 20 countries. Over the next 12 months, however , Russia repeatedly refused to sign any more detailed program of cooperation with NATO. nevertheless, in late May 1995 Russia and NATO agreed a plan to implement wide ranging military and security cooperation within the partnership for peace program.

GOVERNMENT

Under the Constitution of December 1993, the Russian Federation is a democratic, federative multi ethnic republic, in which state power is divided between the legislature, executive and judiciary, which are independent of one another. The President of the Russian Federation is Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, but also holds broad executive powers. The President is elected for a term of four years by universal direct suffrage. The President appoints the Chairman (Prime Minister) of the Government, which also includes Deputy Chairmen and Federal Ministers. Supreme legislative power is vested in • the bicameral Federal Assembly, which is elected by universal direct suffrage-for a period of four years. The Assembly’s upper chamber is the 178 member Federation Council, which comprises two representatives from each of the country’s federal territorial units; its. lower chamber is the 450 member State Duma.  According to the Federation Treaty, approved in March 1992, the Russian Federation comprises 20 republics (16 of which were autonomous republics under the previous system, and four of which were autonomous oblates regions), one autonomous oblast, 49 administrative oblates and six krais (provinces). There are also ten autonomous okrugs (districts), under the jurisdiction of the oblast or krai within which they are situated. A further republic, the Ingush Republic, was created in June 1992. The cities of Moscow and St Petersburg have special administrative status.

DEFENCE

In May 1992 the Russian Federation established its own armed forces, on the basis of former Soviet forces on, the territory of the Russian Federation and former Soviet forces .outside its territory not subordinate to other former republics of the USSR. In June 1994 the tota! Russian armed forces numbered some 1,714,000 (including some 950,000 conscripts and 150,000 staff of the Ministry of Defence). Naval forces comprised some 295,000 men (including an estimated 180,000 conscripts), the air forces some 170,000 (including 85,000 conscripts), while ground forces numbered some 780,000 personnel (including approximately 450,000 conscripts). There were a further 289,000 paramilitary troops, including 100,000 border troops, Conscription is compulsory for males over the age of 18 years, and lasts for two years. However, the .rate of conscription evasion is reported to be extremely high. Projected budget expenditure on Defence for 1995 was 48,577,m. roubles (or some 19.6% of total expenditure). Following the dissolution of the USSR in December 1991,and the establishment of the Common wealth of Independent States (CIS), member states of the CIS concluded a series of agreements on military cooperation and the coordination of armed forces. However, in 1992-93 opposition to the idea of joint CIS forces increased, as individual republics began the formation of their own national armies. None the less, in early 1995  Russian troops remained on the territory of the majority of CIS republics.

ECONOMIC AFFAIRS

In 1993, According to estimates by the World Bank, Russia’s gross national product (GNP), measured at average 1991-93 prices, was US $348,413m., equivalent to $2,350 per head. Between 1985 and 1993, it was estimated, GNP per head decreased, in real terms, at an average annual rate of 5.0 %. Over the same period the population increased by an -annual average of 0.4 %. Gross domestic product (GDP) decreased, in real terms, by 18.5% in 1992, in comparison with 1991. Real GDP declined by a further 12% in 1993 and by 15% in 1994. Agriculture and forestry (excluding fishing) contributed 15.6% of net material product (NMP) in 1991. Some 15.4% of the employed labor force were engaged in the agricultural sector in the following year. Principal agricultural products are grain, potatoes and livestock. In 1990 the Russian Government began a program to encourage the development of private farming, to replace the inefficient state and collective farms. By mid 1994280,000 private farms (mainly small scale) had been established, although more than 90% of the country’s agriculture continued to be practised by state and collective farms. Annual agricultural production increased slightly in 1986-90, but declined by 5% in 1991, by 8% in 1992, by 4% in 1993 and by 9% in 1994.

Industry (including mining, manufacturing, construction and power) contributed 59.8% of NMP in 1991. In the following year the industrial sector employed 38.6% of the total labor force. Gross industrial output decreased by 18.0% in 1992, by 16.2% in 1993 and by a further 20.9% in 1~94. Russia’s industrial stagnation was attributed, in large part, to a decrease in demand for military equipment. , Mining and quarrying employed some 1.7%’ of ,the total labor force in 1992. Russia has considerable reserves of energy bearing minerals, including large deposits of petroleum, coal.natural gas and peat. The level of extraction of’~ fuels. declined in 1992; petroleum (including gas condensate) by 14%; natural gas by 0.4% and coal by 5%. The decline in  petroleum production is largely attributable to the exhaustion of existing fieIds and the lack of development of new deposits, many of which are in highly inaccessible areas of Siberia. Other minerals exploiled Include copper, iron ore, lead, phosphate rock, nickel, manganese, gold and  diamonds.Annual production in the ~ sector decreased progressively ‘in the early 1990s: by 4% in 1991; by 11% in 1992, by 15% in 1993, and by 14 in 1991, by 11% in 1992, by 15% in 1993, and by 14% in the first six months of 1994. In 1992 manufacturing. provided some 26% of employment. Production in the sector decreased, in real terms, by 8% in 1991, by 19% in 1992, by 16% in 1993, and by 30% in the first six months of 1994.

Electric energy, is derived from oil, gas and coal fired power stations nuclear power stations and hydroelectric installations. Despite fears concerning the safety of nuclear power stations in Russia, there are no plans to decommission any plants in the near future. In 1993 Russia’s 29 nuclear reactors supplied’ 1’2.5% of total electricity generation .In 1993, total production of electric energy totalled 956,600m.Kwh, a decline of 5% in comparison with 1992.The decrease in production corresponded to a fall in demand, owing to the decline industrial production. The services sector expanded rapidly in the early 1990s: in 1993 it contributed 42.2% of.overall GDP (compared with 32.4% in 1990) and in 1994 the proportion was reported to nave risen to-some 50%. In 1994 the volume of services provided by, banks, insurance companies, other financial organizations and real estate agents was estimated to have increased by.more than 30% compared with 1993.

The value of Russian.exports to countries outside the former USSR amounted to, US $48,027m. in 1994, while imports were valued at $28,196m., resulting in a trade surplus of $19,831m. Trade declined sharply with, former members of’ the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance , as result of a transfer to payments in freely coavertible currencies and at world prices. The share of thee former communist bloc countries in total Russian trade turnover declined from 24% in 1993. In 1994 Russia’s principal trading partner outside the former USSR was Germany (accounting for 13% of total Russian trade turnover), followed by the USA (7.3%), the United Kingdom (6.4%), Italy (5.7%) and the People’s Republic of China (5.0%).In the same year exports to former communist countries declined by 19.5%, while imports from them declined by 2.5 %. The principal exports in 1994 were fuels and energy (comprising 44.7% of Russia’s total exports), followed by ferrous and non-ferrous metals and derivatives (20.2%), chemical products (7.6%), machinery and transport equipment (5.3 %) and timber and paper products (4.3%). The principal imports in 1994 were machinery and transport  equipment (accounting for 34.0% of total imports), followed by foodstuffs (29.2%), chemical products (10.7%), textiles, clothing and footwear (6.8)and metals (3.5%),

According to official statistics, the budget deficit at the end of 1993 was estimated to be 17,000,000m roubles (equivalent to approximately 8% of GDP). Russia’s external debt was US S83,089m. at the end of 1993, of which $72,769m. was long term public debt. Consumer prices rose by an average of 1,353% in 1992, although the annual rate of inflation declined to an average of 896% in 1993 and to 294% in 1994. In May 1995 some 2,040,000 people were registered as unemployed (2.4% the labor force); however, this estimate did not take into account hidden unemployment. In June 1992 Russia became a member of the World Bank, and in July of that year it formally joined the IMF. Russia is also a member (as a Country of Operations) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD” see p. 140). In June 1994 Russia signed an agreement of partnership and cooperation with the European Union.

Russia suffered severe economic problems in 1991-92 in attempting effect a transition from a centrally planned economy to a market orientated system. The economic reforms initiated by Yegor Gaidar in January 1992 aimed to liberalize most prices, drastically to reduce central’ government expenditure in order to attain financial stability, and to achieve lasting structural changes by means of the transfer to private ownership of state enterprises. Considerable progress was made in liberalizing prices (at the cost of high inflation), and in October mass privatization was inaugurated, initially by means of a voucher system. By late 1994 the private sector reportedly accounted for some 62% of GDP. Although in 1994 overall GDP declined for the fifth consecutive year, there were indications in the final quarter of the year that industrial production has begun to revive. Moreover, the annual rate of inflation, although still high, was substantially reduced. In its economic program for 1993-95 the Government intended to tighten fiscal and monetary policy, to curb inflation further, and to integrate Russia more fully in to the world economy. The Government also sought to counter the alarming increase in organized crime, which was not only detrimental to the national economy but also a potential deterrent to foreign investment in the country.

SOCIAL WELFARE

The Russian Federation provides a basic social security and health system for all its citizens. Until 1990 when a Social Insurance Fund was established, all benefit payments were financed from the general budget. The Social. Insurance Fund is financed by employers on behalf of their workers, and is administered by the Federation of Independent Trade unions of the Russian Federation. It provides payments for loss of earnings owing to ill health, as well as maternity benefit (which is payable for up to 18 weeks). Old age pensions are provided for women over the age of 55 years and men over the age of 60, if they have worked for the qualifying period of at least 20 years (women) or 25 years (men). Some categories of worker may receive pensions on completion of the qualifying period. Since 1991 pensions have been provided from a Pension Fund (financed largely by employer contributions, but also including contributions from workers, and with a budgetary transfer to pay for family benefits). Citizens who have worked less than five years of the qualifying period may receive a social pension, which amounts to- two thirds of the minimum pension. Disability benefits include a child care allowance for all children under six years old. In April 1991 a further allowance was introduced for children between the ages of six and 16.  Unemployment benefit was introduced in 1991, when a Federal Employment Fund was established (financed by employer contributions and government funds). Benefit is payed to those who have been out of work for more than three months (for the first three months the previous employer is obliged to.continue paying the ex-employee’s salary). Benefit is normally payable for a maximum of 12 months.

A basic.health service is provided for all citizens. All health care was formerly financed directly by the State, but in 1993 a health insurance scheme was introduced, with payment by employers rather than by the State. In 1991 there were 47 physicians, 123 auxiliary staff and 137 hospital beds per 10,000 of the population. Projected budgetary expenditure on health care for 1995 was 4,293,631m. roubles (some 1.7% of total expenditure), while projected expenditure on social welfare was 4,470,853m. roubles (1.8% of the total).  During the early 1990s wages in the health sector fell, in real terms, and there was a severe shortage of medical supplies. As in most oilier former Soviet republics production of medicines in Russia effectively collapsed as most newly privatized pharmaceutical companies became unprofitable. The difficulties experienced by the health care system were reflected in a serious deterioration in the health of the population. In the early 1990s the number of cases of typhoid, diphtheria and dysentery rose significantly. The reasons cited for this increase were unsatisfactory environmental conditions, a decline in immunity, a shortage of vitamins and medicine, and insufficient inoculations. In November 1993, according to official figures, some 35% of children in Russia suffering from chronic illnesses and only 14% of children were healthy. In the period 1990-95 average life expectancy for males decreased from 64 to 58 years. Foreign aid programs existed at this time, but they were insufficient to compensate for the severe problems in the health care system.

EDUCATION

Education is compulsory for all children between the ages of seven and 17 years, for a period of 10 years. State education is generally provided free of charge, although in 1992 some higher education establishments began charging tuition fees. Students in higher education receive a small stipend from the State. The level of education in the Russian Federation is relatively high, with 27 graduates per 10,000 of the population in 1991. At the beginning of the 1988/89 academic year 98.2% of pupils in general education day schools were taught in the Russian language. However, there were 10 other languages in use in secondary education, including Tatar (0.5%), Yakut (0.3%), Chuvash (0.2%) and Baskhir (0.2%). In the 1992/93 academic year total enrollment in secondary education (including teacher training and Vocational schools) was 9.4m., while 2.6m. students were enrolled .n higher educational establishments. Projected budgetary expenditure on education for 1995 was 8,998,200m. roubles (representing 3.6% of total expenditure). All educational  institutions were state owned. under Soviet rule, but a wide range of private schools and colleges were Introduced in the early 1990s. In 1992 there were some 300 non-state schools, with more than 20,000 pupils, and 40 non-state higher education institutions. In the early 1990s there were extensive changes to the curriculum in all branches of the education system, including an end to the study of politically inspired subjects, a new approach to the study of Soviet and Russian history, and the introduction of study of previously banned literary works.

HOW RUSSIA IS RULED

There is irony in considering “how Russia is ruled”, for the phrase, coined by the late Merle Fainsod in his important study of the exercise of Soviet power, came to means for the twntieth century the rule of Soviet Communist’ Party and government elites. Today, “how Russia is ruled” must refer to the exercise of power in a Russian Federation in which even the term used for “Russian” (Rossiiskaia) has the politically sensitive ring of-a multiethnic state, not a homogeneous state of ethnic Russians. The government of the Russian Federation, like that of the United States, is composed fo three branches the executive, legislative, and judicial. Executively leadership is exercised by a president and a cabinet of ministers, headed by a prime minister. Under Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, this has been an activist presidency, despite the fact that the legislative branch has had the power to approve or reject presidential appointments to The offices of prime minister, as well as the ministers of defense, security, and foreign affairs. Presidentially initiated reforms have also faced occasional legislative challenge.

The most powerfull legislative branch of the govermment is the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies, a unicameral (one chamber) ,legislative body that normally meets twice a year. Elected to a four year term in republican wide elections in March 1990, prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, this Russian Congress of 1,033 deputies is composed of a mixture of well established former Communist bureaucrats, managers of state enterprises, and deputies elected on more reformist slates. Among the deputies-are a number of non Russian leaders representing regional, ethnic homelands within the Russian Federation. From within the Russian Congress of People’s Deputies, one quarter (256 members) are elected to the Russian Supreme Soviet (a standing legislature commonly called the Russian parliament) .By the .end of 1992, an increasingly assertive Russian Congress, coupled with a Supreme Soviet broadly empowered to disburse money, had collided with the activist presidency of Boris Yeltsin. That collision led to a public referendum on the Russian presidency and on the legislature in April 1993. The same impasse ultimately led to yeltsin’s executive order of 21 September 1993 disbanding the Russian Parliament and calling for December elections. (See “September 1993 SIwdown”.) The conflict also prompted Russian President Yeltsin to speed preparation of a new Russian constitution.

The Issue of the Russian constitution stands at the center of the highest judicial authority in the Russian Federation, the Constitutional Court Established in 1991, the- independent Constitutional Court was I intended to be an Important arbiter of ,the constitution and of the legality of legislative and executive action. Authorized to have 15 members (only 13 were serving in the spring of 1993), the Court is- headed by its Chief Justice Valerii Zorkin. Zorkin and the Constitutional Court have undertaken highly controversial ruimgs overturning the constitutionality of both presidential and legislative actions.The Court’s actions in 1993 have tended to align it more directly in support of the Russian Parliament, and in conflict with the Russian presidency. Nevertheless, in one of its most controversial decisions,the Court ruled on the eve be the April 1993 Popular referendum that the Congress’ had ‘inappropriately set as the standard for passage a majority of’ all eligible voters, rather than the simple majority of all votes Cast. While the Constitutional! Court has been criticized for what some see as its partisan support for the Russian  Congress in its conflict with Russian President Yeltsin, the reality is that ill determinations regarding the legality of legislative and executive action are clouded by the nature of the old Soviet constitutional documents still informal operation.

FRAMING A NEW RUSSIAN CONSTITUTION

With renewed support from the April 1993 popular referendum, President Yeltsin has sought to limit the authority of the Russian Congress by speeding work on a new post Soviet Russian constitution. In June 1993, a constitutional conference was  held  to  approve a draft constitutional document, Reflecting Yeltsin’ s own wishes, the conference approved)be draft (still not a public document as of this writing), which calls for a presidential republic with a two chamber parliament ,and restraints on all three branches of government. The implementation of any such constitution awaits its formal adoption, a matter very much complicated by the impasse between the Russian president and the leadership of the Russian parliament. No doubt the most divisive issue confronting the framers of the new constitution is that of the autonomy to be assigned to those 21 internally independent ethnic republics and other autonomous regions, districts, and cities found within the Russian Federation. Sensitive to the heightened demands and potentially secessionist impulses of some of these autonomous national homelands, as for example in Tatarstan and Chechenia, the constitutional framers have accorded these republics a formal measure of independence in the new constitution. In reaction to this, other traditionally Russian ethnic areas within the Federation sought to secure the same rights by suddenly declaring themselves republican units, such as the “Republic of the Urals” in Ekaterinburg, the “East Siberian Republic” in Irkutsk, or the “Maritime Republic” in Bladivostok. Clearly, the most fateful problem facing Russia’s constitutional architects is
how to maintain the integrity of the Russian Federation, while recognizing the claims of independence on the part of the more assertive autonomous regions. The irony in this balancing act is that these autonomous ethnic republics, as in the case of the newly independent republics of former Soviet Central Asia, were the product of a nationalities policy devised by Joseph Stalin to give the appearance, though rarely the rality, of support for ethnic identity and national self-determination.

Posted on February 24, 2016 in Essays

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